Connect for Health Challenge
Strong relationships with friends and neighbors help people to be more involved in their communities, perform better in school and live happier and healthier lives.
The Connect for Health Challenge is a new grantmaking initiative of the Blue Cross Foundation which plans to award up to $500,000 to nonprofits, schools and local units of government to support efforts that strengthen social connections in low-income communities across Minnesota.
We are excited to announce the 22 Connect for Health grantees! Thank you to the over 5,000 Minnesotans that voted in the Connect for Health Challenge.
A big congratulations to Native American Somali Peacemakers on receiving a grant of $100,000!
East Side Community of Choice Initiative
ESNDC will build inter-cultural connections in the area of St. Paul hardest hit by foreclosures emphasizing support for local schools and affordable housing.
About Your Organization
East Side Neighborhood Development Company
Check all that apply
Grant You Are Applying For (check one)
Larger grant of up to $100,000
East Side Community of Choice Initiative
Describe how you will use the funding to build social connections.
Funding will support ESNDC's multi-cultural, multi-lingual housing staff connecting neighbors in the area of St. Paul hardest hit by foreclosures and vacancies. We will help neighbors:
* talk with each other,
* get to know each other better; particularly inter-culturally, and
* learn to better trust one another.
Our intention is for diverse neighbors to play a central role in the comprehensive "Community of Choice" community development initiative coming this fall.
People connecting, resource connecting, community organizing, and community event activities include:
* Paint the Pavement projects
* Hearts and Hammers projects
* A Brush with Kindness projects
* Green Fair
* Ice Cream Social
* National Night Out
* The new Harvest Fest Parade with over 300 students in local marching bands
* East Side Pride blog
* East Side Pride signs everywhere in English, Hmong, and Spanish
* East St. Paul Facebook site (5000 members)
* ESNDC's inter-cultural Leadership Circles
* 12 residents per year attending national leadership conferences
* Door to door resource outreach
* Implementing a block-level Vacancy Watch with the SPPD
* Healthy Homes classes in English, Hmong, and Spanish
* Homestretch classes
* Ideas from residents and partners as we go
ESNDC's diverse outreach staff, who all grew up on the East Side, enable ESNDC to maintain deep neighborhood networks and connections. Therefore, we are confident that focusing on relationships in the foreclosure bulls-eye will co-create the healthy, attractive Community of Choice we envison.
Describe the community where your project will take place.
According to an October 2011 Minnesota Compass Neighborhood Profile, the East Side has a population of 30,70.
* 31% are Asian, 14% Latino, 16% African American, and 35% White.
* 25% of households have incomes below the poverty line.
* 63% of residential structures are single family homes (55% for all of St. Paul).
* 65% of workers do not commute further than St. Paul or the East Metro.
Further, there are nine local schools whose success is tied to local housing stability.
The East Side has a common geographic identity and is laid out like its own town with commercial corridors serving residential neighborhoods.
The project focus area mirrors these statistics. Many consider it the core area of the neighborhood - the place where solutions are most needed.
Where does your project have impact?
United States, MN, St. Paul, Ramsey County
How will the community and its members be involved in planning and implementing your project?
In many ways:
Our Leadership Circles are 100% self-directed with mostly low income participants.
The Vacancy Watch is resident-led with at least 35 residents of the core project area belonging; most of whom we met door knocking.
This summer, when we canvass the entire East Side, we will no doubt find more people who want to get involved.
ESNDC's housing programs and partnerships, including all activities in this proposal, run through the Housing Advisory Committee, which has at least 50% low income resident participation.
4 of our 15 board members were first met door knocking. One staff person - Mai Xiong - was met that way too. Our board is racially, age, and income diverse. Our staff is two thirds of color.
Most importantly, ESNDC is one of the few CDCs that gives equal or greater weight to the community organizing end of community development. This keeps us grounded and is a huge advantage attracting partners to work in the neighborhood. This also enables ESNDC to maintain relationships for long enough periods of time to let people get outside their comfort zones. Thus, ESNDC is inter-cultural from the board through the staff into the community.
To what extent will your project involve building relationships that cross traditional sector boundaries and social groups?
In the late 90s, as demographic changes accelorated, ESNDC implemented the, "Better Together," project for the purpose of building relationships across social boundaries. This was how the values of inclusion and reaching outside comfort zones rooted themselves in ESNDC.
Fast forward... The 2012 "Community of Choice" affordable housing goal is to build 40 new green homes on vacant lots and rehab 20 vacancies within three years in the core project area (emphasizing proximity to local schools). We want everyone to move into a neighborhood that is connected, welcoming, has a great school, and a Mainstreet retail area in walkable distance that the neighborhood fully patronizes.
A key component of our housing marketing approach is welcoming neighbors.
A key component of our commercial corridor program is to increase the local sales capture rate.
Since St. Paul is switching to community schools, we are jumping on the opportunity to connect neighbors and schools too
Effectiveness & Impact, Organizational Capacity, and Sustainability
If funded, how will you know if your project has been effective?
We will know we are successful if more neighbors in the project focus area know each other, talk with each other, and trust each other.
For several years we have known of the connection between the health of individuals and their commuity relationships ( "Beyond treatment effects: estimating the relationships between neighborhood poverty and individual outcomes," Liebman et al., Harvard 2004; "Abandonment in Baltimore: considerations for public investment priorities," Newman, Johns Hopkins 2006)
To measure our effectiveness we will use a NeighborWorks America survey tool, "Resident Confidence in the Community," this summer then annually thereafter (and after the term of the grant).
This survey asks how much neighbors regularly talk to each other, how much they trust each other to look after seniors and kids, about the frequency and quality of health services, and other components of the community related to health and connectedness.
Habitat is a major ESNDC partner (15 homes planned 2012) and has a similar evaluation design, which we will piggy-back on.
FYI ESNDC's standard evaluation design includes surveying that measures collaboraton within the community.
What specific health outcome(s) do you expect your project to have?
An increase in residents' confidence in their community
Increased inter-cultural interaction amongst neighbors
Increased housing stability
Reduced student turnover in nearby schools
Improved school performance
Describe the reach of your project.
Community of Choice Initiative.
Inner Ring - approx. 20 blocks surrounding Johnson and Farnsworth schools.
Rest of the Ring - approx. 60 bocks in the City designated NSP III area (densest foreclosures in St. Paul), and ISP area (an Mayor chosen recovery area)
Inter-cultural resident connections, community organizing, resource connections, organizational collaboration, economic development, school improvement, crime and safety, and affordable housing.
At a minimum, everyone who lives and has a business in the identified area will receive multiple touches.
At the maximum, famlies with kids in local schools will become very community involved, receive a variety of services, and/or make a major investment by buying a home in the neighborhood.
What will it take to implement your project effectively and sustain the work over a two-year period?
* Sufficient funding to keep ESNDC's outreach staff in place.
* Cooperation and gap funding for construction costs from the City of St. Paul (The Federal funds are in place and the relationships are good. PED staff have recently indicated an interest in moving forward with new home construction and more rehabs in the NSP II area).
* Clear leadership from ESNDC's executive director and board that enables outreach staff to focus, so thay can take the time and be diligent with the many small steps that build relationships and make connections.
* Excellent collaborative relationships with local schools (Largely in place; particularly the two schools in the project inner ring area).
Describe the current stage of implementation and provide a brief overview of the phases involved in implementing the work over a two-year period.
All the activities cited previously in this proposal as funded activities are either curently being implemented or planned, but with less intensity and focus than what we are proposing.
We anticipate that accelorated new home construction and substantial rehabs will begin gaining momentum this fall; mostly due to the Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Service's (DBNHS) committment to provide base financing for new construction. We are hoping for City foreclosure recovery federal funds for the gap financing that leverages low income affordability. DBNHS has a buyer program in place.
Last week Habitat increased its 2012 East Side goal from 5 to 15 houses.
Hearts and Hammers will do their first two houses here in June across from JA Johnson School.
For all of this, ESNDC is the connector and face in the community.
The Community of Choice Initiative is a three year project, during which time we will pull out all stops in the core area.
A major investment by BCBS would increase connecting activities while at the same time providing us with the resources to really focus on the core area.
How would you share lessons from your project with other organizations and communities?
We are very open to ideas for this, but our first-blush picks would be:
* Interns from regional colleges and universities
* A CURA study
* Assuming success, partnering with a funder (BCBS?) to produce a TCPT documentary
* Public speaking opportunities; mostly with collegial organizations, communities that contact us, and reaching out to communities of faith.